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EDUmachinima Fest Expands Categories for 2012

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The Internet is changing the world of journalism, publishing, the music industry, education, storytelling and moviemaking.  Video capture and editing tools provide an opportunity for anyone to create, entertain and inform using video and audio.  Machinima, originally used to capture … Continue reading

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Pixellated Ballet Entertains Audiences in a Virtual Environment

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There is an exciting, affordable  potential for attending classical ballet performances even in light of educational cuts in the arts and curtailed field trips.  The creation of this virtual ballet art form does not come without an intense amount of work … Continue reading

Animations Make it Real…sort of

A virtual world avatar wielding a sword and dropping unconscious is not unusual,  more subtle movements sometimes are.  Standing at a podium and moving hands during a speech, nibbling on an apple or just sitting in a natural pose bring an avatar to life and make for a more engaging experience for participants.  Virtual worlds supply your avatar with standard poses, these can be adjusted or you can make your own using Poser (for purchase) or  Qavimator    (PC) or (Mac) , a free animation creation software application.  I highly recommend Danish Visions on Second Life classes at  http://slurl.com/secondlife/Danish%20Visions/126/119/24).   Tempest Jarman teaches the QAvimator class in voice in a patient, organized manner.  She is clearly an expertise in the use of the QAvimator software.

I conducted a webinar in Adobe Connect recently and a participant gave me feedback saying that I “neglected to use the video capabilities and that would have provided some connection,  audio is not enough”.  In a virtual environment there is potential for auditory, textual, and visual cues to impart a message.  Creating animations and then making them available provides natural movements for students and instructors on a virtual world.  Adding the animations to a HUD gives the participant the ability to change an animation for emphasis and realism at a specific time. Subtle animations like raising a hand, applauding, leaning back in boredom or nodding can help to convey a message to others participating in an event. I am considering filming my virtual world avatar for the next webinar I facilitate, I figure it may help get their attention and it could be fun.

You can download the free QAvimator software at

(PC) http://www.qavimator.org/

(Mac) http://referencethis.com/QAvimator-osx-universal-svn-2008-12-06.zip

Student Machinima at ISTE 2011

Almost half (17 out of 40) of the entries in the ISTE 2011 Machinima competition are student created and range from a 5-year-old working in Minecraft to university students working in Second Life to demonstrate their learning. Attendees in Philadelphia as well as those attending virtually can view the machinima at the iste Wikispaces .  Machinima was created in a number of virtual worlds, including Second Life, Reaction Grid, MineCraft, World of Warcraft and WolfQuest and covered a variety of curriculum areas including history, social issues, creative writing and science..  Be sure to access the ballot at http://bit.ly/j8Amyj  and vote for your favorite student created machinima.

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Creative Commons: Royalty Free Content for Virtual World Creations

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Copyright laws apply in the virtual world just as they do in the real one.  In the United States, Educators have had some flexibility with Fair Use and  The TEACH Act but those rules are very specific and sometimes a little complicated … Continue reading

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Living Literature in Virtual Worlds

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The use of Virtual Worlds to explore and enhance the literary experience is a useful activity for pre-reading, ongoing as a specific piece is read, and/or  as reinforcement after the reading is complete.    The value of a virtual world in … Continue reading

The 1st Question 10 April 2011

My appearance on The First Question was an experience welcomed in order to better understand Virtual World possibilities for teaching and learning.  It was fun…but I do have to admit I was a little nervous, it was a “publicly broadcast” show.  Once I got over the very real feeling of “how do I look, how do I sound” I played my role and enjoyed the moment.  Implications for education are obvious.  Of course there is the game scenario with factual questions, a common strategy for quizzing and reinforcing curricular knowledge.  But more subtle was the actual experience that students could benefit from.  Essentially all the behaviors employed to make the show work; public speaking, taking part in a studio show with a live audience, following a set of rules, preparing, listening, being a cordial loser, being on time, following direction, collaborating and communicating effectively.  All skills and behaviors helpful in any workplace.  The one that really stands out is public speaking.  In all of our standardized testing of reading , writing , math and science – we never really assess public speaking.  Not that I advocate yet another test, but providing instruction and practice in this necessary skill is clearly lacking.  Just take a listen to some public figures, company chiefs, spokespeople and even some news reporters.  We often hear inadequate articulation of ideas, distracting verbal tics, and poor grammar.  So maybe a fun virtual TV show giving students a chance to play different roles, articulate ideas, converse with each other and instructors would provide some valuable practice in the language art we take for granted, speaking.

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Teaching and Learning Options in the Virtual World

The virtual environment offers students alternative ways of learning concepts.  Educators understand that differentiating instruction is important and that we should not limit ourselves to telling and explaining.  The information in a lecture or demonstration is magnified when students are given an opportunity to actively engage in an activity that provides a way for students to practice, apply or even play with the new content.  A community college professor demonstrates a virtual world activity designed to follow a lecture and provide  students a chance to “build a molecule” in virtual space.